The following article was written by Minali Nigam, the 2016 NCMS Foundation Medical Journalism Intern. Minali is pursuing her master’s degree in communications and is a 1st-year medical student both at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Even if you graduated from medical school years ago, it’s not too late to hone your leadership skills. The deadline to apply to the NCMS Foundation’s Leadership College and Health Care Leadership and Management courses is July 15. Learn more and apply here.

“You are people-oriented.”
“You bring a sense of genuine enthusiasm to the team.”
“You get bogged down in details, like a security blanket in a high-pressure climate.”
These were just some of the results from my DISCcert Leadership Report, which identifies strengths, weaknesses, and working styles, among other characteristics.
I was among the 1st– year medical students at UNC-Chapel Hill who had the opportunity to fill out a list of questions, receive a DISCcert report and participate in a feedback session. The goal was to get students to think early on about leadership development so when we’re third years on the wards, we can improve our communication and better integrate into a team-based clinical setting.
Last November, UNC was one of 20 medical schools invited to join the AMA’s “Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium.” As a member of the consortium, UNC received funds to train medical students in new ways that would meet the demands of our current health care system. Part of that innovation was to create a leadership curriculum.
“Doctors often view themselves as passive victims to the policies and institutions of administrators and policy makers,” wrote Angela Cai, a 4th-year medical student at UNC. “We have a critical opportunity today to train a new generation of physicians to become proactive advocates for doctors and patients as health care continues its current course of rapid change.”
Cai helped initiate the school’s leadership interest group, which hosted a physician speaker series throughout the year where students could come ask questions and network. The group’s current leaders, Ammu Vijay and Laura Trollinger, worked with faculty from UNC’s business and medical schools, to offer an elective course for second year medical students this coming fall. In “Anatomy of the US Healthcare System,” students will learn about health care, finance, entrepreneurship and reimbursement models.
The leadership curriculum is still being fleshed out, but according Julie Byerley, the Vice Dean for Education, it will focus on inter-professional education and population health. As the number of independent physicians drops, Cai said, it is becoming more important for students to learn not only how to present a patient on rounds, but also how to present information to hospital administration.
“I think of leadership as an ability to provide the highest quality care in and proactively improve the modern health care system,” wrote Cai. “This ability is built on foundations of teamwork, self-awareness, communication and a basic understanding of the health policy and health care as a business.”